Will 2015 be Britain’s windiest year in two decades?

Source : Will 2015 be Britain’s windiest year in two decades? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/weather/11766178/Will-2015-be-Britains-windiest-year-in-two-decades.html

There have been just eight calm days this year in Britain because of more low pressure systems

Walkers struggle against the wind and rain

Windy weather has been more common than usual this year Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

With gales battering the country it may come as no surprise to learn that 2015 is on course to be the windiest year that Britain has experienced for two decades.

The Met Office said that the traditional calmer months of summer have been dominated by low pressure systems which have brought blustery conditions to most of the UK.

Just eight days this year have been officially ‘calm’ which is defined when at least 20 British weather stations record maximum gusts of 11mph or less.

Fewer than 22 calm days over the whole year would make 2015 the windiest year since 1995.

Although it is only July and there’s still another five months to pass, crucially none of these days have fallen in May, June or so far July – months that would usually notch up a few calm “Calm days are typically associated with areas of high pressure, which normally bring dry, settled conditions during summer and cold, frosty conditions in winter – but common to both seasons often light winds,” said Mike Kendon, climate information scientist at the Met Office. days. And the year is now moving towards a seaonally more windy period.

“Areas of high pressure tend to block the prevailing westerly airflow across the UK. However, the variability of our climate means that some years see more days of high pressure, others see fewer such days,” he added.

Sea level pressure for the six months of the year has been lower-than-normal to north of Scotland but higher-than-normal to the southwest, resulting in a westerly airflow over the UK – and that has resulted in windier weather.

On Sunday the Met Office issued a weather warning for “unseasonably strong winds” in coastal areas that threaten to disrupt holidaymakers’ outdoor activities and cause hazardous driving conditions early in the week.

Forecasters warned gusts might exceed 50mph along the north coasts of Cornwall, Devon and Somerset, and also Bristol Channel coasts of south Wales.

It comes after wet weather swept in from the Atlantic on Sunday, bringing widespread heavy downpours and a washout end to the weekend, following a brief respite to the soggy summer on Saturday, when most of the country enjoyed dry conditions.

Provisional rainfall statistics for July 2015 so far suggest that with 5 days of the month remaining much of the country has already received close to or above average rainfall for the month – but we’re some way off breaking the records for each country.

The highest wind gusts ever recorded in the UK was 142mph in 1989 in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire.

How have your UK HAB flights been effected by the strong winds?

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Global Space Balloon Challenge winners announced

Back in April, the second GSBC competition was run, in conjunction with Google. The winners have finally been announced and show off some great high altitude balloon projects. Here are the results.

Category: Highest Altitude

1st Place with 42895m: Random Aerospace of the UK
Prize: Team Names and individual names will be laser-etched on a Planet Labs satellite before its launch to space

Category: Best Photograph

1st Place: NearSpaceBallooning of the US
Prize: Pi In the Sky Tracker from HAB Supplies

2nd Place: Project Ikarus of Switzerland
Prize: 2 300g balloons from SSTL and a 1m parachute from High Altitude Science

3rd place: LKN Sky 2&3 of Poland
Prize: 1 300g balloon from SSTL and a 1m parachute from High Altitude Science

Category: Best Science Experiment

1st Place: JADE of Poland
Prize: Byonic GPS module, 2 800g balloons and 1 500g balloon from SSTL, and 2 72” parachutes from Sperachutes

2nd Place: IRBE-1 of Latvia
Prize: 1 350g balloon and a 1m parachute from High Altitude Science

Category: Best Design

1st place: Borealis of the US
Prize: 1 Eagle Flight Computer and a 1m parachute from High Altitude Science, 2 600g and 1 300g balloons from SSTL, 1 Arduino, 1 52” parachute from Sperachutes

2nd place: Stratocaching of the Czech Republic
Prize: 2 350g balloons and a 1m parachute from High Altitude Science

Category: Best Space Technology Demonstration sponsored by the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space

1st place: MONSTER of Russia
Prize: $500 and 4 platinum tickets to either New Space 2016 or Satellite 2016

Category: Longest Ground Track

1st place: RandomRace of Russia
Prize: Team Names and individual names will be laser-etched on a Planet Labs satellite before its launch to space

Category: Best Video

1st place: Lovett Makers Club of the US
Prize: 1 Eagle Flight Computer from High Altitude Science, 3 Arduinos, and 1 500g and 2 300g balloons from SSTL

Category: Most Charitable Team

1st place: MIT Space Balloon Team of the US
Prize: Phoenix Tracker from Titan Aerosolutions, 2 Arduinos

Category: Most Helpful Team

1st place: Team SHARP of Canada
Prize: 5 education electronics boards from Ti, 1 inflator, 3 350g balloons, and 3 1m parachutes from High Altitude Science

Category: Most Educational Initiative

1st Place: Museum of the Coastal Bend of the US
Prizes: HAB kit (includes inflator, eagle flight computer, 1200g balloon, spot GPS, payload frame, parachute, and HAB manual) and 1 350g balloon from High altitude science, 5 education electronics boards from TI

2nd Place: Team ACES of the US
Prize: 5 education electronics boards from TI, 2 350g balloons and a 1m parachute from High Altitude Science

3rd place: Blessed Sacrament School of the US
Prize: 5 education electronics boards from TI, 1 350g balloons and a 1m parachute from High Altitude Science

Find full details, including the reports submitted from all the teams on the website here: http://balloonchallenge.org/winners . 127 teams flew from 27 countries including including Japan, South Africa, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Egypt, Peru, Israel, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Spain, Russia, Malaysia, Oman, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Nigeria, Colombia, Norway, Slovenia, Ecuador, and the United States.

SPOT – Globalstar tracking system ‘open to attack’

The Global star satellite constellation underpins the SPOT messenger Satellite messenger system so this article is of interest to all of you who use SPOT trackers for your high altitude balloon flights.

Source http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-33731185

Globalstar satellite
Globalstar uses low earth orbit satellites to help track vehicles and assets

A widely used location-tracking system can be intercepted or fooled with fake data, claims a security researcher.

Many firms use Globalstar’s satellite-based system to keep an eye on trucks, cars, containers and ships as they move around.

However, said Colby Moore from security firm Synack, the way it passes data around is “fundamentally broken” making it vulnerable to attack.

Globalstar has not yet issued any comment on Mr Moore’s findings.

Car trouble

Mr Moore said the problems with Globalstar’s network arise because it does not encrypt the data passing between devices and satellites. Instead, he said, the system attempts to conceal what it does by changing frequencies and padding transmissions with useless data.

The system also does not check that data was coming from where it claimed, he said.

“I ended up figuring out how to decode the data in transit,” Mr Moore told Reuters, adding that it might prove hard to fix the flaws as existing hardware was not easy to update.

Globalstar has been told about the flaws, he added, but so far has not issued any updates or fixes.

Attackers can easily find out these flaws, he said, making it easy to spoof data or keep an eye on assets being tracked. Organised crime gangs, police and intelligence agencies might already be listening in, he said.

Mr Moore is planning to release more details about his work at the Black Hat hacker conference in Las Vegas next week. This month has seen the early release of other investigations into the security of cars and Android phones that will also feature at Black Hat.